New behavioural sciences centre to expand local research, therapy options
The new Taylor’s Centre for Human Excellence and Development (CHED) is now open as a first-of-its-kind research and therapy facility for behavioural sciences in the region.
Operating under the Taylor’s University School of Liberal Arts and Sciences (SLAS), the centre is intended to “revolutionise study and applied research in the area of psychology and behavioural sciences in Malaysia to augment positive social progress in the country,” said Taylor’s representatives in a press statement.
Speaking at the centre’s virtual launch ceremony, Deputy Minister of Health Dato’ Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said, that its establishment was “an excellent step in the right direction to address rising mental health concerns in Malaysia.”
“I hope to see a proliferation of research in behavioural science, psychology and other aspects of social sciences with the commencement of this centre,” he added.
To support the work of researchers, students, and healthcare practitioners in the behavioural sciences, the centre provides two key spaces; the research-oriented Socio-Behavioural Lab, and the Clinical Centre, which focuses on community welfare and mental health management.
According to Taylor’s representatives, the Socio-Behavioural Lab provides a multifunctional space for the advancement of innovations and interventions in physical, cognitive, emotional, and social contexts of human behaviour. Facilities provided include facial tracking cameras, brain activity readers, and virtual reality equipment capable of real-time identification and analysis of emotional responses through artificial intelligence software.
Alongside the Lab, the Clinical Centre provides therapeutic spaces for individual, group, and family behavioural therapy, and is intended as a skills development centre for university students. The Clinical Centre is equipped with comprehensive developmental assessment and mental health testing tools to support clinical work and counselling.
“[CHED] aims to provide the industry with an ecosystem that can empower the next frontier of psychology studies in Malaysia,” said Professor Pradeep Nair, Ph.D, deputy vice-chancellor and chief academic officer, Taylor’s University. “The availability of an advanced research facility that is equipped with innovative technologies in Malaysia would help scientists, institutions, policy makers and governments understand human nature better through data and insights, which would positively impact future plans and policies.”
In a comment at the official launch, CHED director Associate Professor Anasuya Jegathesan, Ph.D, expressed hopes that the centre would encourage patients and families not only to come forward for needed mental health support, but to see more available options for psychological help beyond talk therapy.
“[CHED] is a centre where we can use technology as a tool to enhance our skills and interactional abilities to support individuals, families and communities in need,” said Anasuya. “This centre shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have the scientific acumen and the technical skills to push into new frontiers of behavioural studies.”
Currently, the centre is supporting a research project on Prader-Willi Syndrome under a grant received from the Hubert Curien Partnership France-Malaysia Hibiscus (PHC Hibiscus). Anasuya added that the CHED team welcomed collaborations with other researchers and therapists in the various areas of behavioural sciences to make Malaysia a regional research hub.